Fable artist: It's "difficult to be unique" with Unreal Engine

But Lionhead benefits from working with established technology

Fable: The Journey's lead artist Tak Saito has praised Epic's Unreal Engine, but admitted that it's "difficult to be unique" using such well-established technology.

Among the most popular pieces of middleware currently in service, the Unreal Engine is often associated with the chunky, high gloss feel of Gears of War and Unreal Tournament.

"Artists always suffer with proprietary engines," Saito commented in a speech at the Develop Conference in Brighton today. Lionhead's decision to use its own in-house graphics technology for Fable 3 apparently held up work on character and environmental assets. "We gain a lot by working with Unreal", he went on.

"The only downside is that if you want to draw something special and unique to your game, it'll be difficult to come up with, because Unreal's an established engine."

Elsewhere in an informative talk, Saito spoke of the importance of a consistent aesthetic when crafting a game world. Offering a "lighter, more playful" style than previous titles in the series, Fable: The Journey makes much of curved forms, clean surfaces and stylised breaks.

"Unreal is really powerful, though there are some things you can't do," he concluded.

Epic's Mark Rein has emphasised that the Unreal Engine is suitable to games besides shooters.